The Roasted Chestnuts were the first example of “Street Food” in Sicily, but also in other Italian regions.
Winter, especially during Christmas, reminds me of “ le caldarroste”. You can smell the roasted chestnuts invade the Italian streets. And if you go to Palermo roasted chestnut vendors sell them in “cuoppu” wraps of paper in a shape of a cone.
The roasted chestnut vendors are one of a kind in Palermo, surrounded by a smoke coming out of a metal cylinder that has embers at the bottom and then the chestnuts on top, sprinkled with salt, that creates a white powder in contact with the embers, resembling that of powdered sugar.
It’s very difficult to resist the temptation of roasted chestnuts, although people know that they will burn their tongue, that their hands will get dirty with the white powder, they just can’t resist. If you are in Palermo in this period and you want roasted chestnuts, you can’t miss them, just follow the smell and the white smoke.
I keep these memories near and dear to my heart.
Since here in Philadelphia there aren’t roasted chestnut vendors on the streets, I compensate and buy chestnuts in the supermarket, I cut them, sprinkle them with salt, and bake them at 450 F for 30-40 minutes. Although they can’t compare to those of the Palermo, they are still pretty good.